Dyson is to manufacture 15,000 newly designed medical ventilators, following a call from the British prime minister to supply the National Health Service (NHS) with equipment to combat the fast spread of the coronavirus.
The appliances maker told staff it had received a UK government order for 10,000 of the devices and aims to begin delivering them “in weeks”, subject to regulatory approval it expects to get on Friday.
The firm's founder, billionaire Sir James Dyson, is to pay for a further 5,000 to be made, of which 4,000 will be donated to other countries.
Ventilators support patients with acute respiratory difficulties, which occurs in severe cases of the Covid-19 virus that has now killed more than 450 people in Britain.
The NHS has access to 8,175 ventilators but the government has indicated that 60,000 are needed in total, up from a previous estimate of 30,000.
Dyson declined to disclose the financial arrangements of the government deal, though it said it does not expect to make a profit on the ventilators.
Dyson, known for its floor cleaners, hair dryers and air purifiers, is looking to assemble the ventilators at its research centre at Hullavington, Wiltshire, located on the site of a former Royal Air Force base.
They will contain Dyson motors that are made in Singapore, where the company was planning to manufacture an electric car until the programme was scrapped last year. Dyson’s other products are made in Asia.
Ministers have already given the go-ahead to an aerospace-automotive consortium, called Ventilator Challenge UK, to accelerate production of two existing machines that are made domestically, subject to regulatory approval.